Sir Ken Robinson

by Neel from San Diego

"I believe this passionately: that we don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it." - Sir Ken Robinson (2006)

Sir Ken Robinson

Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

According to a study conducted by the US Department of Education, an average of 1.3 million students drop out of high school every year. This profoundly effects the economy. One million three-hundred students without a high school diploma could result in 1.3 million workers unable to pursue a career. With the current 7.8% jobless rate, the economic crisis could only get worse if this drop-out rate continues. As the economy declines at historic rates, many pundits have begun analyzing and discussing the root of the American decline: education. Education is the means we use to prepare students to compete in the global marketplace. Students rely on education to equip them with the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce. However, the high number of dropouts indicates that the current education system is not fulfilling its intended purpose. Traditional educationalists blame the students for the high dropout rate. However, this assumption may not be entirely true. In many cases, the students are not at fault. Many students are not motivated, and few show any interest in the lesson presented on the whiteboard. They constantly question the necessity of school and struggle to find its true meaning. Without students' attention and success, the future of the economy is in danger. Examining the information, a drastic revolution in education must take place to cure America's economic crisis. Many experts have already begun to examine and work to correct America's flawed education system. One of the most influential leaders in education reform is Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Robinson is a widely recognized leader in the development of classroom creativity and innovation. In 1998, he led an advisory committee on creativity and cultural education for the British government. In addition, the Queen recognized his accomplishments and knighted him in 2003. Sir Robinson has also been honored with numerous awards for his accomplishments in the education field. He participated in numerous events and seminars about education reform, and he continues to urge members of Congress to act on this increasingly urgent issue. His famous TED Talks have been seen by approximately 200 million people in over 150 countries (TED, LLC). Sir Robinson published his latest book, The Element, to wide acclaim in 2009. His future-focused thinking and radical new ideas truly designate him as a hero in education. Sir Robinson has identified numerous shortcomings of the educational system and constantly questions the reasons behind education's structure. Through progressive thinking and questioning of the status quo, Sir Ken Robinson brings a passionate voice for the world's children to promote creativity in the classroom.

Sir Ken Robinson uses forward thinking to suggest and identify new ways of dealing with America's educational crisis. By thinking progressively and not in the past, Sir Robinson is able to let go of past remedies and combat this growing epidemic with twenty-first century reasoning. Sir Robinson identifies that educators created the current system to meet the needs of a previous era:

They [education systems] all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas. Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top [.] And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not, because the thing they were good at school wasn't valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can't afford to go on that way. (Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity)

Sir Robinson argues that children in schools are being equipped for work in factories, rather than today's creativity valuing. Secondly, Sir Robinson states that the whole school system is merely a "protracted process of university entrance." If schools continue to stigmatize students' true talents and passions, the children will feel as if they are not intelligent or valued. This flawed approach will only deter students from their true career aspirations. Today, he states that we need to profoundly change the way education views human intelligence because "many highly talented, brilliant people think they are not." By identifying the gaps in the current education system, Sir Robinson employs forward thinking to develop a solution to better educate children. Without his insight, the failures of the past education system will continue to plague the education system of the future. Later in his speech, Sir Robinson identifies that many of the school systems are responding to this urgent issue with a slow and gradual change: "What we need [...] is not evolution, but a revolution in education. [Education] has to be transformed into something else" (Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution!). Many educators are reacting with a slow and gradual evolution of the current education system to alleviate the problems the system currently faces. However, as Sir Robinson suggests, a drastic revolution must be taken to transform the system into something that will value student's true talents.

Sir Robinson also continually questions the status quo to better understand the way the system works. In many of his speeches, he often asks why our education system does not teach creative subjects with the same importance as standardized subjects such as math and science:

There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they are allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don't we? [...] Truthfully what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side. (Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity)

Sir Robinson identifies that no education system on the planet treats dance and other creative subjects with the same level of respect and status as standardized subjects such as mathematics. By not teaching dance and other creative subjects in schools, students only learn facts and figures rather than true creativity. Sir Robinson argues that by focusing solely on students' heads, children will be deprived of their playful and creative behavior. Education systems take the standardized hierarchy of subjects for granted when teaching. By questioning the status quo of education, Sir Robinson is enabling schools to radically rethink and transform the dysfunctional system of education we have today into as sustainable solution for the future. As a result of his famous speeches, many others have taken notice of his game-changing ideas. TED, an organization that values new ideas and creativity, describes Sir Robinson in his speaker profile: "Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence" (Speakers Ken Robinson: Author and Educator). TED calls Sir Ken Robinson an "expert" in his field, signifying that his works have credibility attached to them. TED also states Sir Robinson "challenges" the current education system. The words 'challenge,' 'champions,' and 'radical rethink' depict that Sir Robinson is questioning the status quo. Sir Robinson continually questions the status quo to develop an education system that will value and acknowledge creativity in the classroom to better serve students.

The most important aspect about Sir Robinson is that he is a passionate leader in the field of education. This character trait is clearly visible just by looking at a transcript from his speech: "I believe there's a second climate crisis, which is as severe, which has the same origins, and that we have to deal with the same urgency" (Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution!). Sir Robinson uses words such as 'crisis,' 'severe,' and 'urgency.' All of these words are driven by passion and a desire to make things better than they currently are. He also passionately believes in his ideas: "I believe this passionately: that we don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it" (Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity). The tone he exhibits in his speeches and the concern he displays for the youth of America that are continuing to be "educated out" of creativity are all driven by a powerful passion to correct the flaws of the education system. With his progressive thinking, incessant questioning, and unstoppable passion, Sir Robinson tirelessly strives to create an education system that will support the youth of the modern era.

Sir Robinson's progressive thinking and incessant questioning of the status quo, coupled with his irrepressible passion, makes his plea for a classroom that promotes creativity increasingly evident. He uses forward thinking to propose a sustainable education system for the future. His pointed questions at the flaws of America's education system enable us to eliminate waste and make the system more efficient. Most importantly, his unstoppable passion is the driving force behind his ideas that will enable students to become more successful in their careers. Sir Robinson is an inspiration to leaders and educators everywhere. His prestigious talks have been seen by hundreds of millions of people around the globe. His new ideas are inspiring to students who have had their creativity squandered by the standardized one-size-fits-all approach to education. As seen on TED's website: 

"We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says. It's a message with deep resonance. Robinson's TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? "Everyone should watch this." (TED, LLC)

TED asserts that Sir Robinson's message has "deep resonance" with others, meaning that others are inspired by them. In addition, "Robinson's TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the web." Also, viewers of the video continually posted, "Everyone should watch this." His speeches being distributed around the web and many people suggesting that their peers and relations watch the video is a clear indicator that others are inspired after listening to his words. Because of people like Sir Robinson, people are beginning to realize the severe implications a flawed education system can have on our society. The dropout rate for the schools of America is a warning sign of the economic troubles to come. If we do not passionately and diligently work to change America's school system, the faults of the past education will continue to plague the economy and students' minds. These signs are the stepping stones to building a future education system that will fulfill students' dreams. As Robinson stated in one of his speeches:

There's been a lot of talk about dreams over the course of this few days. [...] I wanted to read you a quick, very short poem from W. B. Yeats, who some of you may know. He wrote this to his love, Maud Gonne, and he was bewailing the fact that he couldn't really give her what he thought she wanted from him. And he says, "I've got something else, but it may not be for you." He says this: "Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with gold and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams." And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly. (Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution!)

The youth of our planet spread their dreams beneath the feet of our educators. Students rely on them to cultivate them to their fullest potential and equip them with the skills for their true aspirations and passions. We can crush their dreams with standardization, or cherish them with creativity. Our children are the pillars of tomorrow's society built on the blueprint of education. If the blueprint remains inflexible in meeting the evolving societal needs, the pillars will render themselves to a crumbling economy. However, by preparing students for the world of tomorrow, we can enable our economy to achieve new heights.


Works Consulted

"Ken Robinson, Ph.D." Baker & Taylor Author Biographies (2000): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

"Ken Robinson, Ph.D., And Lou Aronic." Baker & Taylor Author Biographies (2000): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 6 Dec. 2012.

"Ken Robinson." Principal Voices. Cable News Network, TIME Inc., Shell Oil Company, 2005. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. .

 Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity. Perf. Sir Ken Robinson. TED Conferences, LLC, 2010. TEDTalk.

Robinson, Ken, and Lou Aronic. The Element. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.

Robinson, Ken. "Sir Ken Robinson." Sir Ken Robinson. Ken Robinson, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. .

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning Revolution! Perf. Sir Ken Robinson. TED Conferences, LLC, 2010. TEDTalk.

"Speakers Ken Robinson: Author/educator." Ken Robinson. TED Conferences, LLC, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. .

Page created on 2/12/2013 6:44:28 PM

Last edited 2/28/2022 8:40:26 PM

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Related Links

Sir Ken Robinson's Website - Everything you need to know about Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson's TED Speaker Profile - A collection of famous ideas and speeches performed by Sir Ken Robinson
RSAnimate: Changing Paradigms - Animated form of Sir Robinson's famous "Changing Paradigms" Speech